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Archive for the ‘happiness’ Category

 
Doris Wild Helmering’s young adult book The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World is ostensibly a story about 12-yr-old Alex who is unmotivated at school but realizes with the help of a sympathetic school counselor that he loves to learn about bugs and worms. However, this book has an unusual twist in that it is also a learning tool that provides essential information about how protein-rich insects and worms can be used to enhance worldwide nutrition.

After a few dark months of recuperating from a serious accident, Alex visits an indoor cricket farm where he encounters terrible smells and overwhelming chirping sounds. He asks a lot of questions and is inspired at the food potential of these loud, malodorous creatures. At first, Alex and his grandmother cook up a few recipes with crickets and worms in their apartment kitchen. Although his mother is at first skeptical, his grandmother, brother, and counselor encourage Alex to think big about his newfound knowledge. After a successful class science project, Alex partners with a company to raise crickets and produce “bug bars” to help feed the world.

This is an engaging tale that rings true regarding a boy’s enthusiasm for insects and application of what he learns to help alleviate world hunger. Illustrations by John Dyess also help make this book rich with visual energy. Endnotes offer readers additional information about the role insects can play in meeting global food needs and activities that encourage children to think more about nutritional protein sources for food.

By offering nuts and bolts information about nutrition in insects, Doris Helmering has provided an unusual twist on the story of a child who doesn’t like school and feels that he is not meant to do anything important. This work would appeal to upper-elementary and middle school students and their parents, and even adult book clubs could enjoy this story within a story and might even be inspired to taste a few crunchy crickets.

Patricia Gregory, PhD — Assistant Dean for Library Assessment Professor, Pius XII Memorial Library, Saint Louis University

Now Available on Amazon

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Taking this quiz on perfectionism will help you determine if you’re a perfectionist.

Do you fear making mistakes more than those around you do?
When you do make a mistake, do you overreact with anger, defensiveness and self-criticism?
Do you remember critical remarks more than you remember praise?
Do you operate from a belief system that says there is a right way to do everything, including folding socks, loading the dishwasher, writing a paper, reading a book?
Do you have difficulty relaxing because there is always something more to be done?
Do you drive yourself with such statements as “you should do this”and “you ought to do that”?
Do you avoid starting a job because your standards are so high that you don’t have time to complete it?

If you answered yes to five of these questions, more than likely you are trying to be too much of a perfectionist.

It’s fine to want to do your best and even to excel in certain areas, but to continually measure your self-worth by how much you get done and how well you do it can be self-destructive. Not only are you a more difficult person to live with (you secretly have the same high standards for everyone), but you are more likely to suffer from depression, performance anxiety and anxiety in social situations.

One thing you might do is observe how others who are not perfectionists live. You don’t have to pick someone whom you view as a slob. Choose a person who seems to be more middle-of-the-road. Someone, for example, who takes pride in her work but whose desk is never in good order.

Once you’ve picked out your less-perfectionistic brother or sister, find one thing the person does that you admire. If she can leave her desk with things still to do, allow yourself the same privilege. And see it as a privilege, not as a weakness.

Another thing you might do is to adopt a favorite phrase that you can chant in your head while taking a shower or driving your car. You can say something like, “I count more than my accomplishments” or “I’m a good person just for being.”

One fellow was able to give up some of his compulsive drive for perfectionism when I explained that if he were perfect, no one could possibly add anything to his life. His need to be perfect was actually a way of keeping people at a distance.

Having high standards and pursuing excellence is a fine goal, and it does give people a great deal of satisfaction and joy when they do well. But having too high of standards can be self-defeating.

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When you take responsibility, you take control in the weight loss game!
What excuses are you using for those extra pounds you carry?
“My whole family is overweight” says Maggie. “What can you expect.”
“My mother always rewarded me with food so now I reward myself with food” pipes up Pete.
“I just can’t stop eating, laments Delores, even though I feel like I’m going to pop.”
“My life is miserable,” says Joan. “Why should I deprive myself of food? I need something to make me happy.”
And now we can blame the food industry for helping us pile it on.

The real problem with blaming others for your extra weight is that it actually sets in motion a belief that you can’t do anything about your weight. If you take responsibility for your weight, however, and say, “I’m overweight because I eat too much,” you shift to an internal focus of control and the belief that at any minute you could take control of your eating and your weight.

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Embrace resiliency, amplify your strengths – believe in yourself and lose weight.
If watching your weight and keeping to an exercise regimen seems a drag, try switching your frame of reference. View weight watching and exercise as a privilege. See it as a way to build stamina, character and resiliency. Dr. Paul Pearsall, neuropsychologist and author of the “Beethoven Factor” refers to adversity as “stress-related-growth.” Dr. Suzanne Segerstrom, professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky says “a persistent attitude is as good as a positive one.”

What happens when you lose weight? You feel great about yourself. You walk differently. You hold your body differently. You convey to the world, “I like myself.” And you do. You feel good and accomplished. And when other challenges come into your life, you may not like them, but you know you have the grit, the stamina, the hardiness to deal with them.

Think about yourself when you get off the treadmill, finish doing your last set of reps or laps in the pool, you have a renewed sense of self. A belief that you’re strong and tough and can handle anything down the road.

Resiliency is like a muscle: You have to challenge it to make it stronger. Resilient people aren’t necessarily braver or stronger than others, but they have learned to move beyond themselves, to grab the baton of responsibility and run with it. In doing so, they erase their weaknesses and amplify their strengths.

So whistle while you work out. Take a bow when you pass up a fatty food. Tell yourself, “Look at me, I am strong, I choose to be active the whole day long.” As positive psychology points out, “Don’t languish, flourish. Don’t merely survive, thrive. Be satisfied with the past, be happy with the present, and be optimistic about the future.”

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Focus on enjoying life – use this psychological technique to get yourself out of the dumps.

Once in a while even the happiest and most well-adjusted person starts to feel down in the dumps. Sometimes the cause of the person’s depression is easily pinpointed. Other times he simply seems to have lost his zest for life and what used to bring him pleasure no longer does. It’s as if the person is sitting on the edge of the swimming pool watching all the other people do their thing, but for some reason he is unable to get back into the water. Things he has done in the past to make himself feel better no longer work.

When this happens, and it does to everyone from time to time, try this simple psychological technique. Write down 20 things each day that you enjoy about your life. Do this for six weeks.

Here’s a few of the items one man wrote.

– Wearing old baggy clothes on the weekend.
– Driving my car on a recently paved highway.
– Running in the park.
– M&M’s.
– Clean socks.
– Cruise control.
– Watching my neighbor blow glass in his studio.
– The sound of the tennis ball hitting the racket.
– A good bottle of wine.
– An Italian meal.

Here are some items from a young mother:

– The smell of coffee brewing in the morning.
– Nice green leaves on the trees.
– The feel of a new book.
– A glass of Pepsi with lots of ice cubes.
– Sitting on my back porch early in the morning smelling the air and listening to the sounds.
– Snuggling with my children in bed.
– Watching my children when they aren’t aware I’m watching them.
– Fresh sheets on the bed.
– Putting on a newly ironed blouse.
– Opening a new bar of soap.
– Spraying myself with cologne.

Now it’s your turn to make a list.

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Change your living environment and feel more in control of your life.

Jane asked me to help with her kitchen. She has too much stuff: Glasses, dishes, plastic containers,potholders, strainers, and cookbooks. Her counter space is taken over by a microwave, a bread machine, a toaster oven, a coffee pot, a radio, and a small television set. Her window sills are filled with figurines and plants. Her walls are covered with baskets of all sorts and sizes. Her kitchen pantry bulges with paper bags, boxes of cereal and half-used opened packages of food, baking dishes, pie plates, cookie sheets, strainers, and small appliances. No wonder she feels overwhelmed and depressed when she goes into her kitchen.

When she moaned to me that she didn’t know where to begin, I wanted to say, “Get those baskets off the wall and throw those dying plants away.” Instead I asked her where she wanted to start. She said, “Maybe my pantry.” I said, “Good, I’ll help.” Three hours later we were laughing and finishing up her pantry. The next day she called to say she had taken down the baskets, put away the bread machine and offered her collection of Precious Moments to her niece. She was on a roll.

What areas of your house need to be organized? Jot down the areas.

If your basement’s a disaster, and many are, what needs to go? Do you really need that old recliner? And what about those old beanbag chairs that keep shedding their fake leather skins, and the coffee table with the broken leg? When your children grow up, they won’t want those things. And you’re never going to use them, right?

How’s the garage? What items need to be discarded? How many years are you going to keep those old ten-speeds and tennis rackets? Will you ever use that tandem bicycle, the four story doll house, and the three old sleds? Are they serving any purpose except making your garage and life more cluttered?

What about your children’s rooms? Perhaps their lives feel more harried and complicated because of all the stuff they have around. How many stuffed animals does your daughter need? Children report having a hard time cleaning their rooms because they don’t know where to go with their toys, games, dolls, books, sports equipment, CDs, and magazines. It’s all too much.

How’s the outside of your house looking? Do you need to do a final leaf-raking? What about those old ladders in the backyard, that extra trash can with the missing lid, and that broken birdbath? Out with them.

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A great way to start the new year — or any season for that matter.
Pulling off Getting Organized

Take an inventory of your house and list which areas need work to unclutter them.

The next step: Call a family meeting and designate a Saturday or Sunday for getting organized. Begin at 8 AM and end with a pizza party. If you can’t come up with a date because everyone is going every which way, look at how too many family activities contribute to disorganization.

If you have parents in town, would they be willing to help babysit your little ones or help haul junk? What about asking your sister and brother-in-law for help or hiring someone to help clear out the paint cans and boxes of National Geographic?

When our boys were young we used to have leaf raking parties. Relatives and friends would come and everyone would rake. (I have great pictures of grinning children sitting in heaps of leaves.) We’d end the day with a big family meal — Hard work but great fun.

Many people don’t get organized because they feel overwhelmed when they think about everything that needs to be done. Instead of going that route, focus on specific areas and ask for help. Making a list, having a family meeting determining who will do what, and setting a date to get organized — You’re halfway there.

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